Speaking at the National Press Club on the Congressional Agenda

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... with that, you have the podium. after majority leader hoyer speaks, we will open it up for questions. >> thank you. that puts added pressure on me, you understand, without having a constituent to my immediate left that i need to please, as well as all of you. keith, thank you very much for that introduction. and thank you for giving me this opportunity to address you prior to the next session and on the eve of perhaps a lame duck session. i say perhaps because we are still figuring out whether or not we're going to proceed with a lame duck session, see whether we can do anything productive. we hope we can. all americans and people around the globe have recognized the magnitude of what happened in this country on november 4th, as i watched barack obama celebrating with more than 100,000 in chicago and tens of millions across our nation, i had a sense that america was filled with a new hope and sense of confidence in our ability to meet our challenges successfully. obviously, expectations -- expectations are high. recent polls have shown that americans do in fact believe that president-elect obama can be successful in meeting the challenges. it was as president bush recognized a triumph of the american story. our challenge is ensuring that we live up to the possibility of that day and the promise of this moment in history. with that oortunity in mind i want to talk as house majority leader about the shape of the new congress and its work in the new year. first, lot me say a word about the 1kwr07 position. -- about the opposition, george orwell recognized that the difference between majority and minority is less a question of seats than of psychology. the majority, he wrote, and i quote, is always faced with a question in such and such a circumstance, what would you do, whereas the opposition is not obbliedged to take responsibility or make -- obliedged to take responsibility or make any real decisions. having served in both capacities i can share orwell's view. that is now the republicans' strongest temptation, the unchecked chance to criticize. republicans may choose to emphasize disagreement and practice obstruction, especially in so many are blaming the media, blaming moderates, blaming everyone but themselves for what happened on november 4th. but we know what happened. over the last eight years, republicans had an unprecedented opportunity to put their philosophy into effect, and it was weighed and measured and found wanting. some conservatives understand that already as the national reviews panery put it, what we have seen over the last two election cycles, it should be emphasized, was not the rejection of one or another faction of the republican party, but of the party itself: in the immediate future with no governing responsibility and with the moderate republican virtually extinct, the other party is likely to move towards a more narrow agenda, even further away from the centrist and independent voters who sustained its majorities. but that would not be simply damaging to the future of the republican party in my opinion, it would be dangerous for our country: our country needs a loyal opposition to work constructively on legislation, to challenge the democratic arguments, and hold us accountable. our country needs republican leaders, and the tradition of bob michael, everett dirksen and howard baker who saw country first and party second. conservatives who are in the strong -- who are strong in their principles, but who would rather help shape legislation for the common good than reflexively obinstruct it for partisan position. at the same tim we shoul remember that minorities don't win elections, majorities often lose them. majorities lose electricals when they pursue partisanship to the exclusion of common sense, compromise and accomplishment. so we must remember where our majority came from. we did not just make a full-flown ideological conversion of the other half of the country. what we did do and this in and of itself was a huge accomplishment was convince majority making independents whether they be democrats, republicans or actual independents or declines that we will govern responsibly and effectively at this time of national crisis. for the 33 to 36 new members of congress in the house of representatives coming to washington to swell our side of the aisle, they are pragmatic, not dogmatic, they were elected on promises of bipartisanship, fiscal discipline, they were ...